The RCMP is dealing with accusations of discrimination due to a coverage requiring front-line officers to put on correctly becoming medical grade face masks which will not be attainable with a beard.
This has sparked requires a change in coverage after some front-line officers with beards — together with Sikh and Muslim RCMP members who go away their hair unshorn for spiritual causes — have been reassigned to desk duties.
On March 19 as Canada started coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki despatched out a directive outlining using respirator masks for front-line officers. Lucki mentioned officers should make sure the respirator is sealed accurately and “some of the widespread causes of a breached seal is facial hair.”
World Sikh Group authorized counsel Balpreet Singh mentioned the transfer has resulted in some Sikh officers being faraway from their front-line duties throughout the pandemic.
“It is clearly a case of discrimination in that after once more, Sikh officers are in a position to serve within the Canadian forces, had been in a position to serve in completely different police forces and there is been actually no subject. The truth that this has been allowed to linger for nearly six months with no decision. To me, it factors to a bigger subject of not understanding the necessity to accommodate.”
Singh mentioned his group has written to Lucki and Public Security Minister Invoice Blair asking them to resolve the problem.
Vancouver Police spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin mentioned the division doesn’t have a coverage much like RCMP and is consulting medical specialists to discover a means for members with beards to be protected whereas working.
Different masks obtainable
B.C.’s Provincial Well being Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was requested concerning the subject Thursday and mentioned N95-type respirator masks aren’t wanted for many legislation enforcement.
“I imagine there are only a few instances the place a police officer would want to put on a respirator. For probably the most half, they aren’t concerned in resuscitating folks and there are lots of different forms of masks that can be utilized safely for different forms of actions that cops are concerned in.”
Henry mentioned respirator masks ought to be worn when somebody is offering take care of somebody who has a respiratory sickness like tuberculosis or COVID-19 or throughout an invasive medical process similar to intubation.
Federal coverage dictates guidelines
Nevertheless, the RCMP says it’s completely different from different police forces as a result of it is sure by the Canada Labour Code and Canada Occupational Well being and Security Rules which requires a clean-shaven face for correct use of N95 masks.
Cpl. Caroline Duval with RCMP Nationwide Communications Companies mentioned in an announcement that underneath present laws, the power doesn’t have the authority to vary the foundations.
“Sadly, there may be presently no proof of a protected and confirmed different to the presently accredited PPE [personal protective equipment] that meets the distinctive uncontrolled setting wherein our front-line members function and that adheres to occupational well being and security rules.”
The Nationwide Police Federation which represents 20,000 RCMP members throughout the nation mentioned the power’s directive is “unnecessarily broad and opposite to the RCMP’s human rights obligations.”
The NPF mentioned it’s advocating for a brand new coverage which permits particular person members to be assessed for front-line duties.
Retired officer desires decision
Retired RCMP Insp. Baltej Singh Dhillon who served almost 30 years and have become the primary RCMP officer to put on a turban, mentioned he disagrees with the power’s “blanket coverage” as a result of it discriminates towards one group of cops.
He mentioned calls to police are sometimes assessed for threat so officers who would not be capable of meet the usual for a fitted respiratory masks might go to a unique name and nonetheless serve on the entrance line.
“Clearly, the PPE is for that point the place a police officer feels that she or he is in a higher-risk state of affairs the place they might be uncovered to COVID-19. As a result of I feel you possibly can typically see that RCMP officers are presently working in our communities, not sporting masks the second they go away the detachment,” mentioned Dhillon.